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A Good Example of BAD Customer Relations

Facebook has been all over the web this week with their unexpected and sweeping changes to the user interface.  Oddly enough, there doesn't seem to be any rationale for the change.  And talk about really poor client communication - no one knew until they looked and their feed had been changed to stories that facebook chose based on something other than the user's desires.  I don't know about you, but I had to go in and make some changes to get back what I wanted to see.  Even worse, on the iPhone where I check facebook most often,  they changed the feed today and I have no way of changing it back. 

I saw a lot of people moving to Google+ this week.  This is not a good way to grow your business, especially for a company very dependent on ad revenue - where the more users you have, the more money you make. 

It was a great move for Google+, that's for sure.

Lesson:  talk to your customer base and find out what things they would like, or ask them what  you think they might enjoy before you change their services.  Test it out first with a smaller group of volunteers to make sure the customer experience will be a good one. 



Book Review: Tribes by Seth Godin

One thing you can always say about Seth Godin's books:  They're always very readable.  Tribes is no exception.  It was an enjoyable read, but disappointing.  The book did have some good points, but I think it focused too much on saying you can be and you need to be a leader.   People that take initiative don't need convincing to do so.  For those that do need convincing, this book won't do it.  Godin's treatment of how to handle the fear of risk (or losing your job) is simplistic at best.  What he describes as "factories" still drive most of the jobs, even though many of them are smaller companies.  The idea that you are guaranteed a better job if you take risks is unrealistic in this day and age.  

The sad part of it is that there's really good concepts in Tribes that get buried by his focus on leading.   I really appreciated his definition of a tribe as anything 1) possessing a shared interest and 2) a way to communication.  The next point is that the internet allows people to create and join tribes in an amazing way - there are no limits on what tribes can be and how big or small they are.  

The idea of being able to join or create a tribe around something that you are passionate about and get involved and active is the gem of this book.  Small numbers of people can have an amazing impact, where 20 years ago, it might have taken a huge organization to make a difference because of the logistics involved.  Modern technology (i.e. the internet) has eliminated many of the barriers to communication and resources.  

I enjoyed the examples Seth Godin gives, but I have a better one from just this week - my husband created a group to support a little girl with a terminal disease who was being harassed by a neighbor.   Within a day of creating the page, it had over a thousand members and growing.   If you look around, you could probably find hundreds of examples of that.

It's now much easier to find groups around your passions, no matter how unusual, and become active.  GET INVOLVED with your passions.   It doesn't have to be in a big way or really risky.

So what did you think of Tribes?

Which Is More Effective - A Mail Newletter or an Email Newsletter (E-Zine)?

It's a good question - suprisingly so.  Most companies have switched to only sending out electronic newsletters because of the expense.  It can be quite costly to send out a printed newsletter between the printing and postage.  Electronic newsletters, in comparison, cost less than a penny per newsletter.

Sounds like a great deal, but how many people are actually reading those newsletters?  The statistics can be quite misleading.   Direct mail is usually measured in response rates, which means that the recipient has opened the newsletter, read it and taken action on the contents.  The average response rate for direct mail is anywhere from 1% to 1 1/2%. ( I checked various different sources for both including, Gallup, the AMA, etc.)    The number of people who have opened and read that newsletter is much larger, but unknown.

Electronic newsletters are usually measured in open rates, which means that the recipient has opened the email.  It does not mean that they have read it or taken action on it.  The open rates I saw on the web for electronic newsletters, or e-zines, were all over the map (try googling "average open rate electronic newsletter" and you'll see what I mean).   Most came between 10% - 25%.  Now this sounds much higher, but remember that it's an open rate, not a response rate.  Of that 10% - 25%, how many actually read and take action on the newsletter?   I couldn't find any statistics on that.  One thing I noticed was that all the statistics were somewhat old - and yet the rate of spam increases exponentially daily.   I have a hard time believing that most people even open or see e-zines anymore.  A lot get buried in an inbox filled with junk emails or caught by a spam filter.  I'd be suprised to find that the open rate is much more than 1% - 2% now.

So what to do?   Direct mail costs a lot, but you've got a better chance of someone reading it.  Newsletters are much cheaper and easier to send, but not as likely to get read.

And then there's blogs and twitter, just to add to the confusion and noise - how do you get your message out without it costing a fortune or getting buried in the general din?

I would recommend doing a mix of as much as your time and budget allow.  I'm pretty sure very few people read my blog, but it's enough that it's worth it to post weekly.   The same goes for my monthly newsletters.   With the low cost,  only a few people have to read them to make it worth it.

I use direct mail for personalized individual messages and the occasional printed newsletter (maybe once a year).  I do a lot more personalized notes than newsletters.

What will you do?

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